Recently I have been working hard at drawing and painting different types of images so a lot of what I will be blogging about in the next few months will be about this. As I have been learning (and this definitely has been a several year evolution), I found some “little known Photoshop tips” to me so I thought I would share them. Maybe there are a few new things for you to try out too!
But first a little about my image above. I felt compelled to try drawing something using Amedeo Modigliani’s basic style after viewing The Daily Art Magazine blog showing several of his images. The really elongated necks were not that appealing to me, but the facial expressions and slightly cartoon-looking lines in his portraits were very interesting. Which brings me to an Aaron Blaise class on Clear Expression where he teaches how to draw cartoonish facial emotions like happiness, sadness, anger, etc. (Most of his classes are very inexpensive, especially during his sales and he is a great teacher.) Aaron’s class was an excellent way to learn how to achieve some of the expressions used in Modigliani’s art. La Femme en blouse marine (Girl in a sailor collar) was used as the main example for my image.
For those of you who do not know or remember, the ~ or TILDE key (just above the left TAB key) can now be used as an Eraser using the same stroke as the brush being used when held down while stroking. PS added this a couple years ago and it is very handy – a great time-saver! If your brush is set to 30% Opacity or Flow, it will erase at this lower amount to blend back. Use the regular Eraser at 100% Opacity and Flow to make major changes. Below are listed the rest of the tips:
1. USE THE EDIT-> FADE TO REDUCE THE OPACITY OF A STROKE WITH THE MIXER BRUSH
I have always felt that the Mixer had a shortcoming since there was no way to control the actual Stroke Opacity, especially if the stroke looked correct, but maybe a little over the top when working in detailed areas. Using the Fade Command can really help with this – just remember it must be executed right after the stroke is made or it cannot be used. For the Mixer brush PS does not let you change the Mode but at least you can reduce the effect! I have the Fade Command set up on F4 as a shortcut key.
2. INCREASE THE BRUSH TIP APPEARANCE FOR PAINTING
A small but new feature in Photoshop 2023 and it seems to be very helpful to me. The brush dab icon is often hard to see when painting with a small size brush so often the SHIFT key is set to see where the brush is painting. PS now lets you change the boldness of the brush tip by going to Edit -> Preferences -> Cursors -> and changing the Brush Tip Outline to Extra Bold. It really makes a difference!
3. ALT + DRAGGING WITH THE SMUDGE TOOL TO SMUDGE USING THE FOREGROUND COLOR
This is one that never occurred to me, but when smudging in an image and more color needs to be added into an area, you do not have to switch to the Brush Tool to do this. Just press the ALT key while painting and the Foreground Color will show up – by dabbing, more color is added. Do take note that: 1) Everything depends on which Smudge Brush is being used. Kyle T. Webster’s free All Purpose Blend Smudge Brush in his Concept set will work quite well. Just make sure that the Foreground Color is the one to needed to add in and the Sample All Layers box is checked On if using a New Layer. If the color does not show up, try a different Smudge Brush; and 2) The Strength of the brush in the Options Bar usually needs to be adjusted – it seems the stronger the amount, the better the color. What I like is that just a touch of a different color from another part of the image can be added quickly to tie it into another object on your layer, and it also makes some really nice cloud colors. What is causing this to happen? The PS keyboard shortcut for the Finger Painting option is the ALT key so actually this is being turned on. The Finger Painting option simulates the effect that happens when you drag a finger through wet paint, and it uses the Foreground Color at the beginning of each stroke. When not On, the Smudge Tool uses the color under the brush at the beginning of each stroke, and this is why dabbing adds more color. (This info was from the great PS Guru Deke McClelland.) See next tip to make this work great!
4. REMOVE SPACING ON SMUDGE BRUSH TO GET A GREAT PAINTERLY LOOK
I have found the best way to find good brushes is find out what the artists who really are doing Digital Painting are using. Eric Elwell is one of these artists and has a set of brushes and a video that explained how he uses his Smudge Brushes. By turning off the Spacing in the Brush Settings panel, some very interesting results can be obtained. The slower the stroke, the closer the strokes are for a nice smudgy smooth transition; the faster the stroke, the brush uses the dab and stamps it along the brush path. Stroking an edge breaks up the edge. His theory is he can add soft and hard edges without having to change tools. To test it, the same Kyle’s All Purpose Blend Smudge Brush was selected, but this time the spacing was turned off – not much happened. By checking out Eric’s EE TEx Smudge brush settings, these changes were made to Kyle’s brush: Shape Dynamics (no Control for Size Jitter), Angle Jitter set to 3%, and Angle Jitter Control set to Direction; Transfer checked with 0 Strength and no Control; Noise checked, and in Options Bar Strength set to 92%. (Each of Eric’s Smudge brushes has different settings but all have Spacing unchecked.) What is really great is that if the ALT key is now pressed, the Foreground color comes out brilliantly when Strength is set to 92% and looks totally painterly! By varying the Smudge brush size and direction, some very nice stroke effects can be obtained, even with Kyle’s All Purpose Blend Smudge Brush. You can download Eric’s brushes that I have here, and I believe he has newer sets for sale up on Artstation. His digital artwork is very good! When several of Kyle’s other Smudge brush settings were opened, he has several where the spacing is unchecked and give some very interesting results.
5. HOW TO EASILY CREATE A FACE CIRCLE OR OVAL WITH EDIT -> STROKE
I have a horrible time getting the first circle or oval drawn on my canvas. Why didn’t I think of this before I don’t know! First create a New Layer, select the brush for your basic outline drawing, and choose a color, usually black. Select the Elliptical Marquee Tool and drag out your shape – use the Space Bar to reposition on the canvas. Then go to Edit -> Stroke and set 2 pixels (or however large you want the line to be) and press enter. Then deselect (CTRL+D) to see the line. Free Transform (CTRL + T) can be used to adjust it more if needed.
6. HOW TO ERASE A SPECIFIC COLOR WITH THE PAINT BUCKET TOOL
One again something I did not know. To remove a specific color from a layer (or All Layers box is checked), select the Bucket Tool or CTRL + G (located with the Gradient Tool in the Toolbar). Set the Mode to Clear and Tolerance (mine is set to 32 at the moment). Turn On the Contiguous box if you want only one area to be removed, otherwise all the selected color on the layer(s) will be removed. Just click in the image on the color to removed, and away it goes. If not enough is removed, change the Tolerance to a higher amount or click again on what was missed. This is so fast! Remember to set the Mode back to Normal when you finish.
7. QUICK TOOL TOGGLE KEYS THAT SAVE A LOT OF TIME
Sharpen and Blur Tools toggle with ALT key
Sponge Tool: ALT + SHIFT + D Desaturates and ALT + SHIFT + S Saturates
Dodge and Burn Tools toggle with ALT key: ALT + SHIFT + S targets Shadows, ALT + SHIFT + M targets Midtones, and ALT + SHIFT + H targets Highlights
I hope some of these tips are ones you did not know. I am using several of them often now. I plan to experiment more with the Smudge brushes to get better at the digital effects I want to create. Let me know if you know of any other tips I may have missed. It is amazing how much Photoshop can do! Have a great one!…..Digital Lady Syd
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Just a refresher blog on what to do if you want to do a quick little painting of a photo you have. This cute downloaded image is by Traci Stewart at Unsplash. It was actually a great one to practice on to try out some different painterly brushes. It takes a bit of planning and time to get a good result – not unlike painting a drawn image. What is a good way to start painting a favorite photo as many people really want painted images of their children, grandchildren or pets? Photoshop makes it pretty easy to get some great results without using their filters.
The obvious way to do this is just to use New Layers when changing colors or brushes and name the layers (with the object or brush name if changing to different ones for different areas) so you know what was done. I did a blog a while back on how to use the PS Mixer brushes with several links for more info – see A Little Digital Painting in Photoshop and New Photoshop Brushes! blog – contains give very painterly results. Another thing to check is the size of the image if it is not your photo. Go to Image -> Image Size and check out what the resolution is set to and how the large the image is. If it is set to 72 dpi, uncheck Resample and change the amount to something more reasonable like 240 or 300, especially if printing. Then recheck Resample and the size of the file should be much more manageable.
There are a few PS people that do teach digital painting on photos and I have written about them in the past. Below are my recommended resources for learning this technique.
- Check out some videos by Lisa Carney, the famous poster retoucher. She did a course in 2017 at Creative Live called Advanced Techniques with Brushes in Photoshop CC – a few things are slightly out-of-date or PS has added some new features not covered (like using the ~ key to erase instead of the Brush Mode called Clear – they do the same thing and the ~ key is so much faster). But overall she does an excellent job of showing how to use the different media types of PS brushes to paint in PS and what the various brush settings do. It is not as thorough as Kyle T. Webster’s Adobe Creative Cloud YouTube videos, but Lisa’s are a great place to start if you are interested in trying out different brush types for painting. Currently her class is on sale for $24 – Creative Live runs sales frequently and this class has 22 not too long videos which are downloadable when bought. The best part of this class is the accompanying 92-page PDF which I have found really helpful. Covers all the information she covers and more. The child image used her class information.
- There is a photographer/painter called Lori Jill that did some really nice painting classes at Udemy. Her course called Turn Photographs into Digital Paintings is an excellent course (although it is from 2014 I think), and is often on sale for a very inexpensive amount (right now it is about $12). I really enjoyed her teaching style and the class contains resources where she teaches you how to use them (an action, brushes, and several images). The Victorian House image below used Lori’s techniques. She also has a class on “Digital Pet Paintings using Photoshop” and “Digital Painting Pinup Portraits from a Photograph” which are also really fun to do. I might add that Udemy has several other digital painting classes you might want to check out. Unfortunately you cannot download the videos, but they will always be available to you when logged in.
- I would be remiss if I did not include the fabulous Adobe Guru Jack Davis and all he has done for the artistic flavor of PS alone. I have written several blogs on his Creative Live videos, which are now rather old but still relevant – an older Adobe Max YouTube video covers a lot of what is in the course. The last image below was from a previous blog. His Creative Live course is called Painting with Adobe Photoshop and is usually offered at a really reasonable amount. ($24 as of today) It contains 40 videos (all are downloadable and almost 16-hours of teaching) covering all the PS and LR (ACR) tools for painting. The biggest problem is that his action and presets can no longer be downloaded from his Facebook page. The presets were all the same as those in is Wow! books – nothing updated for this. I think the action is the same one Dr. Russell Brown of Adobe fame created with his Watercolor Panel for CS6. I hope that Creative Live will fix Jack’s link soon or include the info in his download. But even so, the videos are excellent and very entertaining.
Here are a few of the brushes used to get the child’s image effects. Some of these brushes were suggested by Lisa in her course 30-minute video called Impressionist Brush that show how this is done. The sky and tree background were painted on separate layers using Kyle’s Impressionist Brushes set – French Sharp Block brush. To download his brushes, go to the Brushes Panel’s top right pop-out menu and choose “Get More Brushes” – it takes you to the Creative Cloud login after which you can download hundreds of brushes. Just download to your computer, then go back to the same Panel menu and click Import to add them in or follow my next tip. A trick with .abr files (or most of PS files like Patterns, Swatches, Gradients, etc. which have unusual extensions) is that usually you can double-click them and they go into PS immediately. Watch out now that there is Fresco, it also uses these files and double-clicking them might open Fresco up if you just upgraded or used it. To stop it from doing this, in your Windows file folder right click on the .abr file and select Open With, then select Choose Another App and choose Adobe Photoshop 2022 and check Always use this app to open .abr files. Now it will always open PS when the brush file is double clicked.
For the grass Grut’s OI Stump Trough was used – it looks like grass and was perfect for this image. Grut Brushes are one of my favorite brush makers and he gives away a new brush every week so it is always fun to see what is coming up. Also Kyle’s Real Watercolor – Stamp Damp Paper was used in the background to get the slightly foggy effect and to make the background less noticeable. The baby’s skin was painted with Kyle’s Natural Edge Texture Stain and mixer was used to smooth it out a little (see David Belliveau free Mixer – it is the best). Both of the watercolor brushes were recommended by Lisa. The rabbit is from PixelSquid. The flowers were from Jessica Johnson at Creative Couture – she is the Pattern Stamp Brush guru. My favorite set from her is called the Romantic English Garden set and the flowers were created using her brush #35 and Pattern 25. You should check out her samples if you have never tried the Pattern Stamp Tool (it is housed with the Clone Stamp Tool). I painted the flower in and Viveza 2 was used to overall sharpen up the image. A Solid Color Adjustment Layer was added at the top using a turquoise color at 13% layer opacity to slightly soften the brightness of the image – it had seemed a bit overwhelming to me.
Here is an image created using Lori Jill’s course – this is one of my favorite painted photos. She has a similar style to Jack Davis’s techniques. I have painted many photos using her technique as the rather smooth effect is one I like.
The image below is one I did a while ago and shows some of Jack Davis’s techniques. His style is always very fun to use, but is a little less smooth than Lori’s technique.
I was surprised to find very little recent info out there of people who are teaching this. I will continue searching to find a few more current videos. Hope you check out a few of these painters who really do know how to use the PS brushes. Digital painting a photo is a great way to have some fun!…..Digital Lady Syd
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Which Tool to Use – Smudge or Mixer Brush? – has some brush settings to make a nice Mixer and Smudge brush
If you are like me, you probably spend a lot of time just doodling in Photoshop. I like to try out new brushes and end up creating some pretty weird but fun cartoon characters. Then I end up tweaking it until it is something, well, as seen here in this blog. What I like best about doing this type of digital art is that it does not have to be perfect. I thought I would share with you some of my favorite brushes that work really good when cartooning or doodling. Also some nice brushes for adding color to the cartoon along with a couple little tricks to try out. This blog is a bit huge, but it is a lot of info to cover.
The cartoon lady above was the first one developed for this blog. Below are the basic steps I usually follow to create my cartoon images:
- The first step is to draw a “Rough” drawing layer using a nice drawing brush. Usually a pencil or ink brush is selected to start – this image used Kyle Webster’s Tilty Pencil Brush from his Winter 2022 set (I changed mine from a Mixer to a Regular brush – see Appendix at end of blog on how to do this – it makes a great sketch brush, but both the Mixer and Regular brushes are great!) Begin by just doodling a few items to start your character, and black is my preferred sketch color. Usually I begin with the nose or eyes – then I throw an oval shape around the figure to create areas to build on. Then the body is drawn, if needed. Remember at this stage, it does not have to be proportioned perfect.
- This step is optional if you are happy with the Rough drawing layer. Next create a “Refined” drawing layer by starting with a New Layer and setting the “Rough” drawing layer to a lower opacity. Then either use the same brush or a different one to draw over the original in a darker ink to fine-tune the lines. This totally depends on the look you want. For the above image, a New Layer was used to fine-tune the face separate from the body – the layers were merged together when the refining was done. Sometimes a rougher ink brush looks better at this stage for the character being put together.
- Put a New Layer underneath the Rough Draft layer (turn it off now if there is a Refined drawing) and start painting in the different areas of your character. This image used a few of Kyle’s Real Watercolor Brushes – the Skirt used Wet Pull and her skin used Natural Edge Painter 2. The hair was called Sampled Brush 2 3 by Daarken in his Full Daarken Brushes Full Set (some really cool brushes in this large free set). It just created this great mass of hair! For the Blouse the Natural Edge Painter 2 was used again and Kyle’s Real Watercolor Spider Spread Blend smudge brush was used to spread out the paint and smooth the fabric effect. I love this smudge brush!
- TIP 1: This next step is really important so the texture placed underneath your character does not show through, especially when using watercolor or if the layer opacity of one of the objects is less. To do this, duplicate your Refined drawing layer and paint solid white over just the character. Once done, move it down under all the color layers. If white shows through a little after moving, just erase what looks bad on the white layer. This will make your image look so much better!
- Create shadow and lighten layers. TIP 2: For the lady above, a technique by Pratik Naik was used where a large round 100-pixel soft brush with Smoothing checked on. In the Options bar set the Flow to 9% and turn on the Airbrush. Created a white layer to lighten and a black layer to darken the image. This brush is my go-to do this and often a different color is used to get a different look. Very handy to use!
- To finish up, just below the white layer a texture can be added. The one above was mine created in Corel Painter. A Color Look-up table was used to give a little more contrast. Could also add on top Curves, Levels, or Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layers.
This is the basic process.
The Unhappy Man image above was created using a different free brush called Scratchy Scratchy by David Belliveau at Paintable from his Sketch Set (I have learned a lot from David and followed several of his classes – see my Where to Find a Good Photoshop Painter blog for an example and more info on him.) Another really nice brush – there are so many choices in PS for this kind of art. His lips were created using my SJ KTW Tilty brush (I have trouble with lips so to learn to do this, Etherington Brothers visual lip tutorials were very helpful – search on their Twitter Feed for How to Think When You Draw – Lips – Part A and Part B from May 21, 2021. It shows you how to draw spheres in the lips to get them balanced.)
The T-shirt pattern is from the Old Design Shop – Keating Bicycle Ad and the Free Transform-Warp tool was used to get it crooked (this layer was set to Multiply to remove the white – this messed up everything when a stamped layer was created on top at the end of the process. MAJOR TIP 3: If creating a stamped layer and a weird color shift or a layer style does not work correctly, go the layer(s) with the blend mode(s) that are different from the Normal layer blend mode and convert them into a Smart Object(s) – now everything will work once the original stamped layer is deleted and a new created on top. This took me forever to figure out but I find color shifts comes up a lot!
Grut’s NM Knowit was used for the light whiskers on the Refine drawing. A solid color brush was used on a layer underneath the Refine drawing layer and different colors added to the character. Sam Peterson’s Pencil Stumpy 6 was used to paint in the solid colors. Then Sam Peterson’s Airbrush for Shadows at 25% opacity to finish up. Both of these brushes can be downloaded for free by going to his in his Character Design in Photoshop YouTube video and in the chat relay sidebar there is a link – he does discuss how to use his brushes in this video. Sam always has some good PS techniques in his Creative Challenges. Next the white figure was painted on a layer underneath the colored parts of the person as explained in Step 4 of the process. Last step involved adding the texture background below the white layer. The background texture was one created from an elephant tutorial by Aaron Blaise (see my Got Some Free Time! Try Drawing blog for info on getting his fabulous tutorials) – he often starts his tutorials by creating really nice basic textures so check him out to learn about this and all sorts of drawing. This image is similar to the top image but used different brushes.
This above Outdoorsman image followed the same basic steps, but once again used some different brushes. This time the Rough drawing layer was used with no Refine drawing layer. TIP 4: Where I differ from most drawers is that I do erase out lines and remake them on-the-fly or use the Lasso Tool to change the size or line up my lines. My Wacom pen is set to toggle between the ALT key for sampling and E for erasing – very handy. My new favorite drawing brush for cartoons is Kyle’s Clean Comic brush from his Magapack set – created a brush by changing these settings in the Options Bar: Size of 10 pixels, Flow 36% and Smoothing 12% – then the saving brush. It makes for a very clean line. The painting color brush is one I named SJ Smooth Painting and it uses the tip of Aaron Blaise’s Local Color Brush (from the Brush Tip section) with my settings. (His brush used a lot of settings, but I only used Transfer (Opacity Jitter 0% and Control Pen Pressure) and Smoothing. The Options Bar is set to Size 35 pixels, Opacity 100%, Pressure for Opacity on, Flow 83%, and Smoothing 10%.) It makes a really nice paint stroke for applying color. TIP 5: It is fun to try different brush tips from with other brushes to create new ones. Sometimes really great brushes are created as this one is for me.
The background was created by adding a layer underneath the white painted layer and just lightly drawing in some background features with the Clean Comic brush. I followed some tips from a recent video by Kyle T. Webster called Tips for Creating Space and Distance in Your Art – very informative. On a layer underneath the background sketch, Kyle’s Smitty brush from his Spring 2022 set was used for the landscape and the tree. The sketch was left just slightly showing by lowering the Sketch background layer to 64% opacity – wanted a bit of the cartoon look to still show to tie it into the character drawing. The slight floral effect was created by using a Pattern Stamp by Jessica Johnson using her English Garden Set (brush 30 and pattern 37) – my favorite set of hers! She is the Pattern Stamp expert! Used my Pratik Naik from above for the slight shadow effect.
This image is a lot more basic than the others. Just a Rough layer was created using a new ink brush called Tick Fission by GrutBrushes – it is his free brush of the week this week but all his brushes are only $1 if you find one you want. This site is fabulous if you have not checked it out before. I am really enjoying this brush as it gives some nice variety of lines for drawing. Underneath, a brush created from a texture brush using French Kiss was used to add some texture to his pants. (See my How to Create a Texture Brust to Match a Texture blog to learn how to do this – it is nice to have a texture brush from one of your favorite textures to use in images.) Under that is the painted white figure. TIP 6: A Pattern Fill Adjustment Layer was used to add the background – the above uses Kyle’s Gesso Canvas Knife pattern from one of his brushes. I can’t find the brush where this pattern is from, but several of his brushes have similar effects – Kyle’s Megapack Inkbox Brush Pen Queen uses one called kyle nupastel 2017 that also looked nice in this image. To download the pattern (texture) from the brush, just click the + icon to the left of the pattern line – it will automatically go into your pattern file. Use a Selective Color Adjustment Layer using the Colors Black, Neutral, and White colors and the black slider to adjust pattern contrast – try both Relative and Absolute. This is a great way to get a really nice painterly texture. By using the Pattern Fill Adjustment Layer, they can be swapped out really easily. Even if the pattern is too light or dark, just change the blend mode or layer opacity of the adjustment layer and it may look really good. To learn about the textures in brushes, check out Brush Hour with Kyle T. Webster: Let’s Create Some Pattern Brushes video for great info on this. The font used was Segoe Print and is free for personal use.
Thank you so much for hanging in there with me on this huge blog. It has been a while since I did one – this is something I have been wanting to write about for a while. Hope you found something useful in it, even if it just finding some new brushes to try out. Have a great one!…..Digital Lady Syd
TIP 7: As promised here are the instructions on how to convert brushes between Mixers and Regular type brushes and other types too. The bottom line for converting a regular brush into a mixer: Select the Mixer brush that has the settings you like, then press down the CTRL+ALT keys while clicking on the Regular brush you want to convert to a Mixer with the original Mixer settings. They will appear in the Options Bar. Below is how I actually created the SJ Tilty Pencil brush.
How to turn Kyle’s Tilty Pencil Variant Brush from his Winter 2022 set from a Mixer into a Regular Brush. Not exactly how I figured this out, but it works great for me as a Sketcher. It gives very delicate lines, like the ladies face above, but much darker lines for more emphasis. To convert the Tilty Pencil Variant into a Regular brush is just the opposite from turning the above info on changing a a Regular Brush into a Mixer. In this case either create a basic Regular Brush with the Option Bar set to Opacity 100%, Flow 100% and Smoothing 20% or find a brush that is set up the way you like. Select this brush and press down the CTRL +ALT keys, keeping them held down until you get to the Tilty Pencil Variant, and click on it – it now turns into a regular brush with all the Mixer’s Brush Settings but the Options Bar will use the regular brush settings. Immediately go down and save the brush by pressing the + icon and naming it. Otherwise once you use a different brush, it goes back to a Mixer. Now you can change the size and the settings to match what you want. For my brush (a small round brush tip), it is no longer an Erodible brush (since the regular brush tip used was not Erodible brush type – need to create an Erodible brush like the Mixer settings on the new one if you want it to be an erodible Regular brush) – but is set to Size 7 pixels and Spacing 10%; Shape Dynamics – Size Jitter 11%, Control Pen Tile, Minimum Diameter 36%, Tilt Scale 104%, Angle Jitter 39%, Control Pen Tilt, Roundness 0% and Control Off; Scattering Both Axes at 30%, Count 5, and Count Jitter 62%; Texture – Pattern is Kyles WC Seamless 1 (saved down from one of his Watercolor brushes – see TIP 6 above), Scale 100%, Brightness -122, Contrast 5, Check Texture Each Tip, Mode Height, Depth 22%, Minimum Depth 0, Depth Jitter 0% and Control Pen Tilt; Transfer – Opacity Jitter 0%, Control Pen Pressure, Minimum 26%, Flow Jitter 0%, and Control Off; and Smoothing checked. In the Options Bar, Opacity is 100%, Flow 31% and Smoothing 20%. There you have it! This same technique can be used on most brushes in PS except the Clone Stamp Tool. Try it out – it works really good.
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I wanted to do something a little patriotic as my contribution to Memorial Day, a most important holiday in my country. The Bald Eagle has been the national bird of the US since 1789. Today, the Bald Eagle, which is indigenous to the US, is protected under the National Emblem Act of 1940. If you love Eagles like I do, check out these web cams of the various Eagle families. I drew this eagle before I decided to put him into a Memorial Day background. I have to admit that I spent a long time drawing this bird, a lot of steps to learn and attempt to master, but overall a lot of fun to create!
I will try to keep this short by listing my references used as the main ingredients on how the Eagle was created. First, a wonderful YouTube video by Aaron Blaise shows how to create the actual bird was used. It is called Birds of Prey Course Sneak Peak Out Now! from 2020. I only followed his first example of the Eagle head, where he takes you very thoroughly through the steps needed to get a pretty good result. Here is what my bird looked like after doing the above video. Still a lot of work was needed.
Next a background was added using a few layers in Corel Painter, but I could have used oil or acrylic brushes in Photoshop to get a similar results. From this point on, a lot of improvising was done. Photoshop’s Kyle T Webster’s brush Pollock CD from Summer Set 2019 set (Kyle’s brushes are always free to PS subscribers) was used at lower opacities to add the speckles above the background and also lightly on the Eagle. Lots of different brushes were used to add more details into the feathers. Used a lot of Aaron’s brushes for the basics. One of my favorite brushes used was the glitter effect added on some of the darker areas of the feathers – Grut’s major cool OI Brief Shona brush was used but the texture in the Brush Settings Panel was changed to a gold glittery pattern – this gave a really nice glittery feel to the brush when adding in some of the shadow lines. And note, just because the pattern is gold does not mean you get the gold effect – must first select a gold color for painting (could use gray to get a silver which was also done in spots). It sort of felt right for a regal Eagle! Also used Grut’s brush ICitrose for roughing in some of the feathers. (Grut’s brushes are the best and if you visit his website, every Monday he posts a free brush to download which is how I got the ICitrose brush a couple weeks ago – this is always a lot of fun to try out a new brush each week!) Lots of strings of whites a grays were used to add in more feather details. When finished, a Gausian Blur was set to 1.6 Radius to keep these detail lines from being too sharp. Some dodging and burning was used. The font is one I really like called Zahra In Line Grunge – layer style effects of Bevel and Emboss, Pattern Overlay, Outer Glow, and Drop Shadow were applied to make the gold effect. The same gold pattern used in the glitter OI Brief Shona brush was selected, except the gold color now appears in the lettering. The gold pattern effect is from Gold Foils 7th Ave Design textures – the Gold-8 texture was converted into a pattern by going to Edit -> Define Pattern. Any gold glitter textures you have would work or you can even make them. (See my How to Create a Glitter Texture blog.) It is now added to your pattern list and be selected for a brush in the Texture brush settings or as a Pattern Overlay in Layer Style Effects.
I enjoyed doing this bird so much I actually purchased the How to Draw Birds of Prey Course from Aaron – it covers 15 different types of birds and lots of material – still just getting through the basics on birds. Hopefully I will have a few more drawings soon. In the meantime, hope everyone is having a great holiday in the US and a great weekend in other locations! Summer is almost here!…..Digital Lady Syd
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I have been working on getting my digital painting skills back up to speed and learning some new tips. Thought I would pass along a couple things I learned while creating these images this week – maybe some will help your workflow.
TIP 1: HAVE A BASIC IDEA OF WHAT TO CREATE. This image above may look simple, but it took forever to get this effect. Part of the problem is that I did not have a good “roadmap” of where the final composition should go so lots of bad choices were made before it was finished (in this case 7 iterations were made). One issue was finding a font that fit the the feel of the image (this one is from Design Cuts Nordica Collection where a slight Outer Glow layer style was added to it for contrast – the bear, which was later painted and redone to be a Polar Bear is included). So Tip One, if possible, is try to get a basic idea or make a sketch of where you want the image to go – it will save lots of time! That said, half the fun can be just experimenting which is what was done here. The eye is from a set called Mystic Sun Moon Logo Templates Kit by Olya Creative – it just looked so different!
TIP 2: MAKE LOTS OF LAYERS. The above contains 56 layers. Many digital painters will paint different elements and objects on different layers so they can be manipulated to get the correct opacity or effect needed to enhance the image. Then they merge them together. I am not that brave – usually I group the layers and close them up when finished, but never merge. Definitely start with many layers before merging.
TIP 3: WATCH FOR COLOR SHIFTS WITH STAMPED LAYERS. This is a problem that has driven me nuts for years. Once the layers are all finished, I find a final composite layer comprised of all layers merged into one is needed so a stroke layer style (set to Size 2-pixel, Position Inside, Opacity 100% and using a medium dark gray color) can be added for uploading to social media – it gives a nice hard edge differentiation for different formats. Often a color shift occurs when the merged or stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) is created. The Snow Tree image above had this problem – not sure why (it appears to happen when using some layer styles on one of the layers in the stack). To remove the color shift, set the stamped or merged layer to the Color blend mode and it will go back pretty much to the original look. Made the Snow Tree image just for fun to learn how to use Kyle’s Winter 2022 set of brushes – he has a good video called Illustration Masterclass New Photoshop Brushes for 2022 where he goes through every brush in the Winter 2022 set and Describes what it does. He also has one called Brush Hour with Kyle T Webster: The Winter 2022 Brush Set where he actually draws a scene using them. Used one of his tree brushes in the top photo left panel. The Font is called Thankful Sans.
TIP 4: TRY OUT NEW BRUSHES AND SAVE THE ONES YOU LIKE. This sounds like a very logical thing to do, but it is very easy to download new brushes and forget all about them. The Winter Wonderland image used just a set I have had for a while and never checked it out. It has lots of fun brushes – all are in a free set of 174 brushes called Lazy Brush Set by Vesner on DeviantArt. It is an older set from 2013, but the brushes work great with CS5 and above. The image used several and three were added to my Creative Brush group (and there are a lot of other brushes in there) for use when doing this type of art work. Check out my blog called Finding a Photoshop Brush in a Big Set for tips on how to find brushes you do not use that often but want to remember. If you do a screen copy or right click and Save As on the download page image of the brushes, it creates a jpg of the different brush strokes similar to the example sheets made in my referenced blog. In this image only the birds from Shadowhouse Creations free Birds Brush Set 4 were not Vesner brushes. To get the birds on the left-hand side to appear in the distance, a layer mask was added to the bird layer and the Gradient Tool set to Linear Gradient was used to diminish their appearance by dragging diagonally top left to bottom right.
TIP 5: HOW TO STOP LAG IN YOUR BRUSHES. It has come to my attention that some brushes just have more adjustments and PS has trouble making them zip along the image as fast as most artists would like.
- First of all, yes it is great to have the ability to add just a little more smoothing to your brushes other than the default 10% PS gives you. This is very helpful if sketching or outlining an object, but it can really slow down the painting process. Turn it off up in the Options Bar if the brush is really slowing down.
- Adjust the Spacing of your brush. For example if the brush size is 100 pixels and the Spacing is set to 100%, a new stamp occurs with each stroke separated by 1 pixel. The PS Default is 5% – lots of overlap of strokes which can cause painting to slow way down when lots of other settings are turned on in the brush so just bump up the Spacing a little to make it paint faster.
- Turn off the Extras like rulers or overlays that may be visible. It can affect painting, transforming and dragging layers onto the canvas. Go to View -> Show -> None to turn off. I never knew this but it was in an Optimize Photoshop Performance article by Adobe (other good info in it also).
- Minimize or turn off the Preview thumbnails in the Layers Panel. Each time you change a file, PS updates all the thumbnails visible in the Layer Panel (and also Channels Panel). This affects painting, moving, or nudging layers. And the more thumbnails visible, the greater the effect. I will check to see if making stamped layers and hiding the merged layers below will make it faster to paint, but it makes sense it would. To minimize or disable previews, go to the hamburger icon in the upper right of the Layers Panel and selection Panel Options – select either small size or None. If switching to the small size thumbnail, it can be handy to switch from Thumbnail Contents Entire Document default to Layer Bounds to be able to see what is in the layer easier.
- Close the Library Panel if it is not being used much by going to the hamburger icon and selecting close. This will make your computer and brushes run faster. Not sure how much this helps as I have not tried it, but it seems like it might.
TIP 6: COPYING SETTINGS FROM ONE BRUSH TO ANOTHER. In the Brush Settings Panel, click the little locks on the right side of the sections in the brush panel to copy those setting to a different brush. Be sure to turn them off in the brush with the new settings or they will get applied to the next brush used. This can be a little tricky but it is an easy way to copy setting over. Very helpful if creating a new brush and wanting to use similar settings from one of your favorite brushes.
TIP 7: WORK WITH JUST A FEW BRUSHES AND REALLY LEARN HOW TO USE THEM. Similar to Tip 4, it is easy to get distracted by a new brush and think it is really so much better than your stand-by brushes just to find out that it really is not as good as it seemed. I am still using a pastel brush created back in 2017 to do a lot of the basic painting – it is a brush that I am very comfortable using and have learned how it works with different settings added. The Polar Bear in the top image was painted using it. (See my How to Create My Favorite Brush Blog.)
I hope these tips will help you a little with your digital painting and art. I am slowly learning more about this from the many wonderful digital artists that use Photoshop for their jobs. It is amazing what the brushes can do! Hope everyone is getting through winter just fine and are Waiting for Spring!…..Digital Lady Syd
Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Hi everybody! I know it has been a while since I blogged, but I really have been busy with Photoshop! Major project going through all brushes! So many to choose from and big decisions on which to use. Of course this is a whole other blog on how to sort through this. The portrait image above, by Christopher Campbell at Unsplash, is one that worked nicely with the brushes for the painting effect required in this blog.
Adobe Creative Cloud has Photoshop Daily Creative Challenge videos that are released for Photoshop every few weeks. A couple months ago Sam Peterson, an illustrator and painter, ran two weeks of some really fabulous PS videos. One was called Brushes where he gives you a starter file and walks you through how to create a similar effect as shown above. The image used PS’s Camera Raw, Angled Strokes and Oil Paint filters to begin the painterly process as Sam demonstrates. He also showed how to create a background to match the image to be painted. This photo used a brush called Clay for the background that was in Kyle T. Webster’s India Set he sold for charity (unfortunately no longer available). It is basically a chunky block brush. For a very similar brush, check out the Brix Brush in Kyle’s Summer 2020 brush set or for the brushe, Disastro or Disastro Spatter in his Summer 2021 Brushes, which uses both the foreground and background colors (press harder or lighter to get variations and a cool texture effect). Lots of different brushes were tried before finding a background brush I liked – but then this is half the fun! For info on how to download and load Kyle’s free PS sets, see my Kyle T. Webster’s Photoshop Brushes blog – scroll down to the How To Find His Brushes and Loading the Brushes sections.
The Mixer Blender
Sam gave guidance on what brush settings to use, but it is up to you to find a brush on which to apply these settings. This process is using a Mixer brush to blend, not a Smudge brush which a lot of people call a blender brush. Mixer brushes are a more advanced version of the Smudge. It does not appear Kyle uses Mixer brushes very often for blending as there are only a few in his sets (there are several Mixers in his Megapack Real Oils section will work nicely). For something like digital painting, I would recommend using Mixer Blenders for this exact and complicated blending. The main thing to remember is that the Wet and Load amounts, which Sam sets at 15% to start, can be adjusted “on the fly” to get a more or less painterly effect from the brush. He did not change his Mix and Flow which were both at 50%. Still okay to change if it helps. Also, if a color is needed to be added in, like for a cheek or lips, there are several ways to do this. I find the easiest is to select a regular brush and splash a bit of color in for blending with the Mixer. In another blog I will discuss some of these Mixer points.
One of my favorite Mixer (blender) brushes, and one I used extensively on this image, is by David Belliveau (free download of 4 brushes at the link and also check out his amazing drawing tutorials – link to my blog on David’s technique is listed below). The settings Sam suggested worked fine with this brush (set to 195 pixels). When set to 15 pixels, used David’s settings to do the detail work on the image, like the eyes, lips, and some hair – mainly where the focal point is, after the original blending was done. The larger brush was used to soften down all the other edges other than the eyes and hair by the right eye which were left sharpened as discussed below. As a reminder, once the settings have been added into the Brush Settings panel for the Mixer, save it down as a new brush. Otherwise all the settings will be lost if you go to a different brush and want to come back to this Mixer.
Once a brush is chosen, it was time to paint with the Mixer – Sam seemed to only paint on one layer, but I found it much better to split it up for the different areas being painted. For the right image below, here is a list of some of the layers created – started with a basic once over on the face smoothing the edges like in Sam’s tutorial, then evening out the lighting effect on the next layer, added color to her cheeks, eyelash layer, pupils layer, iris layer, catchlight layer, fixed the shirt on another layer – just duplicated part of it and blended it together, some hair strands added on another, and lips painted. As you can see, it is a bit labor intensive, but the results are worth it. By putting everything on separate layers, corrections can be made really easily. Below on the left is the original image and on the right is the one that looks like a pretty decent retouch – so what makes it look more painterly?
Getting the Final Painterly Look
Mainly adding a texture is a key to getting the more painterly effect needed to sell the look. Sam has a texture in the PSD file he provides and several other brushing suggestions are given to get this look. Also using Color Lookup Adjustment Layers, and possibly Gradient Map Adjustment Layers, using different blend modes and opacities gives some nice painterly effects. And do not be afraid to stack several of the same kind of adjustments using different blend modes and opacities. Just remember that usually a Curves or Levels Adjustment Layer must be added on top to bring back some contrast. So this is what was done on this image to finish up the “look:”
- Liquify was applied to enlarge her eyes just little and give her mouth a bit of an upturn (this filter is so cool!).
- A stamped layer was created and a Sharpen action was run on the image – a black layer mask was applied and just her eyes, her hair strand on the right and a small section of her ear lob were sharpened.
- A Color Lookup Adjustment Layer set to 80% opacity was run using On1-Heat Wave LUT – one that adds warmth into the image – any warm one you will probably get this effect. This really filled her face with a beautiful light effect.
- Another Color Lookup Adjustment Layer was added and set to 12% layer opacity called Teal Orange Plus Contrast preset (not sure where I got this). It darkened down the blues in her shirt.
- Added a Levels Adjustment Layer to flatten down the blacks a little since paintings do not have true blacks in them usually.
- Added French Kiss Tableaux Mirage-2 Texture – used a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer clipped to the texture with Saturation set to -100 so only the strokes from her texture show up. The texture was set to Overlay blend mode at 46% layer opacity. (See link to my blog on how to do this below.) These layers were grouped and set to 62% Group opacity – then the Group’s layer style was opened and the Blend If Slider was set to This Layer Black tab split to 0/86 and Underlying Layer White tab split to 121/255 so the strokes showed up just like I wanted them.
- Next on a New Layer below the Group file, a brush was created from the texture and used to cover the whole image to give it more of a painterly look – the layer was set to a reddish brown brush color, Color Burn blend mode and 93% opacity. It adds some nice soft canvas looking lines in the image, especially on the face. (See link to my blog on how to do this below.)
- A Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was clipped to the Group above and the Saturation was increased (+44) and Lightness lowered (-38) to darken down and add more color to the image.
- Last step was a final Levels Adjustment Layer – Black tab to 16 and Output Levels black set to 5.
Hopefully you can get an idea what really goes into these digital paintings. And I am still not sure it is really a “Painting” since the original image was used, but it definitely looks more painterly than just a good retouching effect. I still look at it and see places where it could be improved, but it is a learning process. Definitely it took me several hours just to figure out the Mixer blending to get the effects needed. Enjoyed being back and plan on doing this a lot more. ……Digital Lady Syd
Digital Lady Syd’s Related Blogs:
Where to Find a Good Photoshop Painter – David Belliveau tutorial information
How to Add Texture to an Image without Adding Its Color (You Tube video link in blog)
Sorry I have not been blogging as much as I have in the past. I have been watching a lot of videos and trying to figure out how to use the Photoshop brushes to actually give a reasonable painterly brush stroke. There does not seem to be much on how to actually do this – only a few digital artists talk about it. I felt like the above image starts to emulate painterly strokes as it might look in Corel Painter, but not sure about if it emulates real media results. (In my Painting Acrylics Digitally – Can It Be Done? blog, I did get a pretty decent acrylic look.) The original above image is from Unsplash by Luca Bravo in Arles, France and was posted in my Beautiful Blue Door Tidbits Blog 3 years ago that used the Mixer brushes. For this blog I have been experimenting to try and get a consistent painterly stroke and finding settings that might work on other brush tips for a similar look. I have listed throughout this blog several free resources for brushes used in the above so check out the hyperlinks. I am also finding out this is a huge subject to cover so I am just addressing a small portion this week.
Creating the Sketch (black outline)
In the above the black lines were drawn in to create the layout of the original image. Used the PS Megapack Inkbox and Kyle’s Clean as a Whistle brush – lots of Click + SHIFT’s to draw straight lines (and it still is not perfect). When drawing a horizontal or vertical line, just keep holding down the SHIFT key while dragging to see how it is looking. This was handy for this image. If needing a more diagonal line, it will not work. When doing regular sketching, I usually use Grut – I Qwillo brush ($1 for all his individual brushes). Nicolai has an enormous number of fabulous brushes on this site (his Cloud set is the best around) . Every Monday there is a free brush of the week to download and is a great way to try out different media brushes. In this case a little richer stronger line was needed. So I would suggest trying different brushes until you get the line effect you need.
I have been trying to stick mostly to Kyle’s brushes here that can downloaded easily to try tout if you are using the later versions of Photoshop. For more info on how to download his PS brushes, see my Kyle T. Webster’s Photoshop Brushes blog. BTW Kyle has just released his Adobe PS Spring 2021 Brush set, so give them a try. The Edvard Munch brush set first appeared in 2017 in a 4-part video series called Get Started with Digital Painting Photoshop – they are not part of the PS2021 brushes, but are a free download here at the Adobe Creative Cloud. He found the Munch Filbert Dry Mixer gives a sort of an impasto look. To get the painterly strokes on each side of the door, I liked Kyle’s Munch Medium Flat brush but I did make some setting adjustments. I am using the brushes below to get some nice painterly strokes. I did switch a bit between them to get the right stroke effect on the walls.
The first brush was named SJ KTW Munch-Medium Flat-painting (150 px) and does not have much color variation but does use both the foreground and background colors with Pen Pressure (this means press light and background color appears and hard for foreground color when using a tablet.) Only the settings listed were changed: Texture section – was changed to one I imported from Painter, but the Rough pattern texture (Invert checked) seems pretty close (it can be found in the Photoshop default Erodible Textures set) and setting Brightness to -22, Contrast 57, Depth 19%, Minimum Depth 82%, Depth Jitter 27%, and Control to Pen Pressure; in Color Dynamics section checked the Apply Per Tip and set the Control to Pen Pressure; and in Transfer section set Opacity Jitter to 38%, Minimum to 55%, Flow Jitter 13% and Minimum 74%.
The second brush was named SJ KTW Munch-Med Flat-Painting Var1-try sim colors (175 px) to remind me how to use the brush. These settings were changed: Texture – changed it to same Rough pattern (Invert checked), Brightness to -13, Contrast to 33, Depth to 14%, Min Depth to 21%, Depth Jitter to 69%, and Control Pen Pressure; Color Dynamics changes were to check Apply Per Tip, Control set to Pen Pressure, and Saturation Jitter to 4%, Brightness 4%, and Purity to -20%; and Transfer set to Minimum Opacity Jitter 84%, Flow Jitter 43%, and Min 28%. Also the Dual Brush section was opened and the same brush,130 (size) Kyle munch flat medium1, was selected – should already show a Size of 130 px, Spacing 17%, Scatter with Both Axes checked, Scatter to 202% and Count 1; and finally Wet Edges section checked.
Try changing the Brush Tip Shape Spacing to adjust how much texture is showing up. Below are examples of how the strokes look all using the same foreground and background colors. If you have a different Texture pattern you want to try, go ahead but do adjust the sliders. Just be sure to save any brush variants you like when finished. See if you can get some nice stroke effects for solid areas especially. I would suggest trying a different brush tip (check out the list provided in the Brush Tip Shape section and just select one you like) using similar settings (or the settings from any brush you like). This is a great way to create your own paint stroke effect. I will talk more on this in a later blog.
The bottom sidewalk and door pane effect was created using Kyle’s India Brushes Clay brush that I purchased recently for only $1 for his humanitarian cause of Covid 19 in India. (Available until May 10th.) All these brushes are great but I especially like the effect of this one. Kyle also has a free Builder Brush available at his website seems to do a similar result.
The other brushes used in this image were from Jessica Johnson and her fabulous Pattern Stamp brushes – I always seem to be using them! What I love most about Jessica is that she gives out samples of her different types of brushes which is always very helpful. This time it was the pattern at the top that was a give-away called 3 Modern Renaissance which included a brush and a pattern. Check out her You Tube video Free Photoshop Brush & Metallic Color Palette: Inspired by Dior Couture – Modern Renaissance to get her freebies (see 4-13-Free Renaissance Brush zip file) – and be sure to sign up for her E-mail to get notified when she has new brushes and patterns to release. In this case the Modern Renaissance was used as a regular brush and painted on in a darker gray color. Also used her Moody Floral Bold pattern stamp brush with her English Garden pattern (TM12) was used for the colorful flowers on the window sill and by the cat. When you go to her freebies for the Modern Renaissance brush, click on the 3-15-Free Brush Mon zip folder which contains the Moody Floral Brush and an accompanying pattern. I just love the flower stroke with this brush.
One of Chris Spooner’s free Subtle Grain Textures (6) was applied to give the wall a bit of a cement feel and tie it in as a building. It was masked off the cat and windows. He has lots of nice free resources at his site. The name plate with instructions are in my blog called How to Create Personal Overlays for Your Images – one of my most popular blogs.
The large black cat is part of a set called Egyptian Hieroglyphs by Skybox Creative that cost $12. If you check every Monday several items are available at Free Goods of the Week which is how I got this vector cat. To give him the cool contour (like my gray cat Sophie), a Bevel & Emboss layer style was added using an Inner Bevel, Smooth, Depth 230%, Direction Up, Size 68 and Soften 0. Then in the Gloss Contour, the Gaussian contour was selected – then Highlight Mode Screen, White, at 29% Opacity and Shadow Mode Multiply, Black, at 32% Opacity. The Contour was checked and the Contour was set to one by Jenni and I have no idea where I got it. Just play around a little with – it give some really cool 3D effects. The other cat is from a set called Cat Family by teddybearcholla (found in a very old Photoshop Creative magazine). A Bevel and Emboss layer style was also used on this cat, with a Depth of 532%, Up, Size 7 px and Soften 0 – Highlight Opacity set to Screen and 77% opacity and Shadow Mode set to Multiply and 33% opacity. A Watercolor pattern texture was added and set to a Depth of +26%. The layer styles really gave both cat items a fresh look.
Above is a variation of the same image with just a Color Lookup Adjustment Layer with a Cerulean preset at 25% layer opacity and a Gradient Map set to Overlay at 34% layer opacity that used purple and pink randomized color added. Quite a different look. Eventually I hope to get an E-book or PDF together that can be used as a basic guide to show some of the little tricks the sliders do. For example, did you know that if you put the Shape Dynamics Size Jitter Control (even with no Jitter set) to Pen Pressure, the actual Brush stroke appears smaller. Check the Brush Preview in the Brush Settings panel to see the range between the thick and thin stroke now. There is a lot more to this, but that is just an example showing how the stroke will be different with just one setting change. And the people who do paint digitally use all kinds of different settings to get their brushes to work. In the meantime, I will try to pop in more often! Have some fun trying out some new brushes……Digital Lady Syd
Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
This week is a reblog from 2016 that shows how to use a template (of mine that can be downloaded at DeviantArt – see link below) to create a fun image in Photoshop. I decided to try a new image as shown above. Notice I did not really follow the template markers, just used them to give me a layout idea and deleted all of them but the top one. The results are very similar to my post of on How To Do a Little Subconscious Digital Art Journaling a couple weeks ago. Lots of fun to do.
My image above used free Graphics Fairy images for the top image and white heron, but the Osprey is mine. The two birds on the Text word are from Watercolor Russian Birds by Anna Faun. The background texture is one I took in St. Augustine of part of a wall at the Castillo de San Marcos fort. The flying birds are from PixelSquid. And now on with the previous blog. Have a great week!
Last week I covered using templates in Lightroom to display your images. (See my How To Use Lightroom’s Print Templates to Display Your Images blog.) This week I am using Photoshop and a template I created a while back that shows another way to display your images and objects. Any template that can be opened in Photoshop can be used, I just like this particular the photo arrangement in this template. Here is the link on my Deviant Art page where my SJ 5 Opening Template can be downloaded if you would like to use it. This blog is just discussing how to use a template in Photoshop. (See my Using a Template to Create Your Own Unique Valentine Blog for steps on how to create this template.)
In each of the two images I selected a color scheme and added texture and natural objects to the mix. When you open the template in Photoshop, you will find a white Background layer and 4 black blocks where images and/or objects can be placed. In most templates, this is what you will find – black or colored boxes where the images are to be placed. For each layer with a black block, an image or object was placed above it. The crucial step is this next step – the image was clipped, which means the image was linked to the black block and showing up just in the black box area, not outside that area. There are several ways to clip the image or object layer – can go to Layer -> Create Clipping Mask, or use the shortcut keys ALT+CTRL+G on layer, or right click on layer and select Create Clipping Mask from list, or my favorite, just ALT+click between the two layers to be clipped. Very easy! Next using the Move Tool (V), the image was dragged to fit in the location just right. If it does not fit correctly, go to Edit -> Free Transform or CTRL+T to adjust the size. The top version contains little images I painted or just some of my favorite clip art. For the starfish, a vintage texture was added behind it (all clipped to the black block as more than one layer can be clipped at a time). The background texture was added just above the white Background Layer and only a portion of it was used. It can be transformed and different Adjustment Layers can be added to the texture to match the template pictures. To get the line around the openings, be sure to add a Stroke Layer Style on the black block layers to get the same treatment for each, not the pictures. To copy the Layer Style to another layer, just ALT+drag the fx letters to the new layer.
This image uses the same template and same workflow as used above. Just found some interesting objects and one of my painted trees. Again, just clipped them to the black block layers, added one of my painted textures underneath (texture was created in PS using Grut’s Inky Leaks Brushes which are wonderful). No strokes were added to the black boxes in this image. This time Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Texture Effects’ Dingy Cream preset was used with a few changes to give the interesting border. On a New Layer, some texture was painted on the image (see Just Jaimee Summer 2012 Brush Sampler 4) to finish up. Sometimes painting on a little extra texture adds a nice touch.
That was it. The trick to using Photoshop templates is to clip the images to the openings. If you just want the layout without using the block, just add your objects on top, then once placed, just remove the black box layer. Just remember that and it will be very easy – maybe easier than Lightroom. And there is more leeway for creativity with all the cool templates out there that can be downloaded many times for free. That’s it for this week – have a great week and chat at ya soon!…..Digital Lady Syd
Sorry I missed last week – just got way behind with all the fabulous webinars and videos everyone is making. In fact, the above is the result of listening to five videos presented by Design Cuts on journaling and scrapbooking. I have never done either too much, so it was kind of fun to try it out. Thought I would have a little fun this week and share some of what I learned.
The video that particularly got me interested was called Basics of Digital Art Journaling by Tangie Butler. Tangie pointed out that Digital Art Journaling is a little different from scrapbooking or collage, which I have done a few times before. (See some of my related blogs at end.) She says “it has some sort of meaning or symbolism that is an expression of your thoughts and feelings in your life right now.” What I found fascinating is how you do this. Just start moving different files into an another image open on your computer. Use whatever items fit your mood at the moment – they will stack as layers in your extra document. Tangie says it is your subconscious coming up with all the items. I thought I was just pulling several of my favorite objects into the document to use. But then I tried to figured out what my image was saying: Possibly that I want to get my bicycle tires fixed, there are deer in our neighborhood (and I love to photograph animals), I really like Mystic, Connecticut, and Astronomy is my favorite hobby behind Photoshop. That was a little subconscious coming through I think. Hum!
The image above used 28 layers and was filled with lots of Hue/Saturation, Curves, and Color Lookup Adjustment Layers. It used a couple textures and several objects. If you want to find some great free resources for your journaling efforts, go to The Graphics Fairy and the Old Design Shop. Both have lots of old signs and vintage objects – you may need to remove the white backgrounds by selecting the Color Range command in most cases. I love the Man in the Moon on the image above which was from Graphics Fairy. Also Deal Jumbo has lots of free items every week to download so get on their mailing list. Design Cuts is great and have just about everything a creative could use in Photoshop, including lots of freebies. Do not forget some of the great scrapbooking sites also – they have some nice inexpensive sets, but watch out for the usage copyright rules, many are for personal use only and cannot be used on the internet. My favorites are Pixel Scrapper and E-Scape and Scrap, who has giveaways in their newsletter all the time
A Few Digital Art Journaling Tips I Learned
- Using Layer Styles, especially Drop Shadows and Strokes, and the Blend If sliders, especially the Underlying Layer white tab, can make for some nice grungy looking text. A small shadow or stroke can really make an object pop and try different colors for them.
- Just painting on a layer can make a huge difference – try using splatter brushes or watercolor ones. Kyle T. Webster has included a bunch of specialty brushes with Photoshop so this is a good place to put them to use. And GrutBrushes has great Photoshop brushes (check out his free brush every Monday and free his Sampler Brush Set).
- When working with so many layers and using the Move Tool, be sure to check the Auto Select and Show Transform Controls in the Options Bar. It can get very frustrating trying to find the needed layer quickly.
- If you keep selecting the wrong layer (or if PS jumps to a different layer thinking that is what you want), just click on the object, the Transform Lines should show up around it – then press the CTRL key and it will let you move or transform the correct layer now. This I found very helpful.
- If you need to resize or stretch an object, instead of just placing it into your image, open it up in Photoshop and make it a Smart Object – then resize, save and move it into your journal page. It keeps the sharpness of the object.
- When you do a Layer Style and want to do some more things to the layer, exit the Layer Style, add a New Layer either above or below this layer, highlight both layers and press CTRL+E to merge the two layers. Now you can make changes easier and do more things like changing the blend mode or do another Blend If.
The digital art above was all about Spring – I wanted to do lots of plants but these darn seals (or maybe these guys are Sea Lions) just sort of showed up in some nautical clip-art and I could not say no to them. (How they got into my subconscious I do not know!) I did not know seals were in the Bahamas (one of my favorite places to sail), but the text behind them is from a book published in 1731 and says they were – I think of them in Monterey, California (where I used to live). So that must be why they popped in. Otherwise the other objects are sort of how Florida looks to me right now. The Pelican, the Dolphin, fish on the beach and Hyacinthe (one of my favorite flowers) are all doing their Spring thing without a worry like the rest of us. There were 35 layers in this document.
To learn more, check out other You-Tube videos by Tangie. This was a fun mental exercise to try. I think one of the most intriguing things about this technique is that it dives into your unconscious. I did not believe it until I attempted these two images. There was a Photoshop Virtual Summit a week ago and I have a lot of new stuff to review. I will try to get a blog on some of the new things I have learned together shortly. Have a good week and stay safe!…..Digital Lady Syd
Just realized this weekend that I have been posting at this site for 8 years! Thought I would put up a little image I worked on this week of 3 little sparrows – they seem to be in their very colorful costumes so here they are to help me celebrate! I have to laugh when I think about my first blog – I thought I was really doing something. (See My First Post – Painted Oleander blog) Over the years it has evolved and has become something I look forward to creating. It has also been a great way to really learn Photoshop – would recommend it if you like to write. And now doing videos really steps up how to present the information and new challenges. I will continuing to add more videos over the next year. I still plan to stay on top of the new plugins and Photoshop update which I always so much fun to try out.
Actually I was practicing painting (which oddly enough my first post was painting with Mixer Brushes in CS5) – have to do this to stay good at it. Decided to brighten them up a bit to make them look a little more interesting and friendly. Basically followed my standard workflow: Paint a flat primary layer, then Highlights and Shadows layers, some fur or feather layer, blending with the Mixers and Smudge brushes layers, and last step to add in anything that needs to be done to finish up the image. The background is one I painted in Corel Painter. The balloon from hanging air balloon free mock up is from Deal Jumbo and used Gavtrain’s Instant Confetti Action. Applied a speech blurb and a couple text layers. That was it.
Hope everyone is still enjoying my blogs and finding them useful when needed. It has been so much fun to share all the great Photoshop techniques I have learned over the years. Hopefully I will still be blogging for another 8 years!…..Digital Lady Syd
This image of a wolf took me several days to complete! I am not exactly an expert with drawing, but I followed a rather lengthy tutorial by Aaron Blaise and it came out looking pretty good. (I actually had to start over as it looked wrong to me on my first attempt.) Of course, it is not as good as his, but considering I have very few skills here, it was really fun to create something I like! That is why I am passing this on in my blog – if I can do this, you can do this!
Aaron Blaise is one of my very favorite illustrators and I have been following his blog for several years now. He worked for Disney Animation for a long time on many of their great movies (The Rescuers Down Under, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, The Lion King, Pocahontas, Mulan, and more). He has several videos on YouTube and many reasonably priced lessons on his website. The Youtube video followed here was called How to Paint Fur-Photoshop-Wolf Portrait. What I really liked about the video is that he breaks the whole process down into several sections (and layers) so it is easy to understand how the image is actually going together. He starts off with teaching how to draw a rough sketch of the wolf, continues on with refining the drawing, adding color, then shadows and highlights, and finally adding the fur textures. I felt like I learned a whole lot and this is just from a YouTube. Below is what the drawing looked like after finishing up the tutorial, and it sort of looks likes his since I followed the steps pretty closely. In this case I would watch for a few minutes, then try to do what he was doing – this is a great way to learn how to do this.
I liked how this image turned out too. There are lots of techniques Aaron shares on how to get the fur looking natural. One thing I did want to say is that you have to decide on a few favorite brushes and stick with them. It took me quite a ways into the video to decide which ones were giving me effects similar to what he created. A couple of his brushes I had, but they did not look right to me – he is using a Cintiq and I am using an older Wacom and it did seem to make a difference on how the strokes looked. I ended up creating a set of ABlaise Painting brushes to use and started by adding in just a soft round brush. He has a “go-to” brush that he always uses, but it seems too organic for me. For the actual drawing, my “go-to” brush is Grut’s I Qwillo brush – got used to it and always use it. Then for the local color and fur, a brush tip of one of Aaron’s brushes was used. Not sure which brush but it is basically a very solid color with Size 35 pixels, Opacity 100%, Opacity Pressure icon on, Flow 83% and Smoothing 10%. It was reduced down in size for the fur and and seemed to work pretty good. To get the ends pointed for the fur, the Pressure for Size was also turned on. It takes a little experimenting and several brushes were created to fit all the strokes he is teaching. He also talks a lot about values and how to light your subject – very interesting and practical since you can watch as he creates the lighting effects – the drawing sort of just pops! The last several minutes he is teaching how to finalize the image to make it look less drawn and more like an image.
One of my Corel Painter textures was added to the top image a couple times, set to Linear Light blend mode where the Fill slider was adjusted, and parts were brushed away in a layer mask to get a more artistic effect. It gave it that cold look that makes me think of wolves. It was so much fun to do this project, but it did take time. I would recommend you trying it if you have an interest in drawing animals and even if you do not – Aaron teaches a lot of little tips and tricks. It was a great way to stay inside when it is so hot and rainy! I am going to try to do a different one soon. Have a great week!…..Digital Lady Syd
This week I think I am still on a Summer Brain Vacation! Decided to just play in Photoshop and figure out what to do with some of the wonderful add-ins that are available. Not sure what to call this kind of graphic art so I am making up the name “pseudo scrapbooking” – I do not consider myself a scrapbooker (many scrapbook artists do some incredible work that I have never attempted) and there are no personal images applied. I just tried to emulate a touch of this venue by applying some of these products which improved my skill set and was a lot of fun. It also gave me a chance to work on extracting objects, creating brushes for backgrounds, adding text, and creating some interesting composites. So that’s what I did this week!
The above image just started as a small 7″ X 5″ document at 300 ppi. To begin, a texture brush was used to add some wirey looking lines in a turquoise color on a layer. Then a Pattern Fill Adjustment Layer using a free Square Geometric Patterns from Deeezy (these are really interesting patterns) called Square Geo 06 was selected and the layer was set to Subtract blend mode at 80% layer opacity. I also follow Design Cuts and Creative Market – see links below in paragraph. They often contain some wonderful objects that can be used in all kinds of projects and several of these items were added into this image. Creative Market offer for free a small set called Watercolor Clipart Unicorns from Corner Croft – one of the unicorns was selected and his horn removed so he looks like a regular horse. He was set on the slope of the geometric pattern. Also from Creative Market, a shell from Aloha was used and set to 89% layer opacity. The paw print was from Design Cuts Pet Shop Flyer freebies. The bird is from Nicky Laatz at Design Cuts and the pink flower clover is from Peolia at Creative Market. Many of the Creative Market sets are offered free for only for a week and then are added to larger sets. If you sign up for their newsletters, every Monday they send out these free downloads – really a good deal. Same with Deal Jumbo and Deeezy – they offer free fonts and small sets every day in their newsletters. Design Cuts usually offers their freebies on Fridays or when they do a tutorial using some of the items in the bi-weekly items sets they offer for sale (these are usually incredible deals for what they are worth). Two of Grut’s Inky Leaks brushes (these are fabulous spatter brushes) called Split Stain for the rough edging and Flick Tub around the bird. And don’t forget, each Monday Grut offers a new brush to try out for free so check it out! A Color Lookup Adjustment Layer was added using the Futuristic Bleak preset. Then a Creative Market action called Goicha from Cinematics 21 was used on the image. This contains five Adjustment Layers to adjust the color of the overall image. The font is called Angelic War. The last step was to create a stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) on top and apply Topaz (for website link, see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) ReStyle’s Wedgewood Blue and Tan preset as is at 70% layer opacity. Hopefully you will get a chance to check into some of these resources and get some nice items for your PS practice.
Here is another example of just having a great amount of fun in Photoshop! This actually started with a beautiful flower image from the Harry P Leu Botanical Gardens in Orlando, Florida. The flower was extracted using the Select and Refine command. Then I just started playing. I had no idea it would turn out being an underwater fantasy world! I like the story that the Tang and the Water Monster Flower create – and I think the shark is watching out for his Tang buddy. The background was created from five 2 Lil’ Owls (for website link, see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) Textures all placed in a group. Some solid color blue and yellow color were painted on separate layers behind the swimming fish (brushes from a small but really nice set by Richard Tilbury) and bubbles created using just a small spatter brush. The Clown Tang, Shark, and Seahorse are all from PixelSquid, one of the best sites for very realistic looking and fun objects. (See my How to Use the PixelSquid Add-on in Photoshop blog.) So this really creepy looking plant turned Water Flower Monster was created by taking my beautiful extracted flower image into the Liquify Filter and just pulling and pushing it all around. I was surprised how it turned out! I think I used every tool and it was fun to try them at different sizes on the edges. On a layer above, a sketch brush was used to enhance the lines in the flower for for a more fish-like effect. The same thing was done with the turquoise seaweed on the bottom – it was painted using Prism Light Studios Spiral Brushes-Tie Dye Brushes – Full Spider brush (was a free brush from Creative Market). Then this layer was also taken into Liquify and stretched and twisted to get this rather unique look. Several adjustment layers were added on top for contrast and color. It was just totally fun to create!
Hope everyone is having a wonderful summer – it is so hot here in Florida that it is more fun to stay inside and play in Photoshop. Have a good week!…..Digital Lady Syd